CBS on Friday touted Democrat Beto O’Rourke as a “rising star” in his race against Ted Cruz in Texas. Both Cruz and O’Rourke were interviewed on This Morning, but the Republican endured tougher questions. Bianna Golodryga hyped O’Rourke’s eclectic background: “Before running for Senate, O'Rourke was a punk rock bassist who also ran a software company before being elected to three terms in Congress.”
She enthused, “Incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz won his seat by almost 16 percentage points in 2012 but recent polls show a rising Democratic star.” In contrast, Golodryga pressed Cruz: “You are a legal scholar. So given your background, do you think that judge Kavanaugh has the temperament to be a Supreme Court justice from what you saw last week specifically?”
She demanded, “You are a legal scholar. So given your background, do you think that judge Kavanaugh has the temperament to be a Supreme Court justice from what you saw last week specifically?”
What didn't come up? O'Rourke's drunk driving arrest from 1998. Silence from the reporter on that one.
To her credit, Golodryga identified O’Rourke’s hard-left views, something that might be a problem in Texas:
The two couldn't be further apart on key issues. O'Rourke is trying to sell a progressive agenda, including stricter gun restrictions, universal health care, and abortion rights. Cruz says he's more aligned with Texans on multiple fronts, including border security and strong Second Amendment protections.
But when O’Rourke insisted, “We've accepted no help from political action committees, special interests or corporations,” the journalist did not challenge him. The Associated Press found this claim at least somewhat dubious. On August 6, the outlet tried to split the difference: “O'Rourke Gets Money Through PAC, Not From It.”
The AP writers explained:
O'Rourke has not technically violated his campaign promise to eschew PAC money, but a PAC is encouraging members on its website to donate directly to the Texas Democrat.
O'Rourke, a U.S. Representative from El Paso, has promised not to take "a penny from PACs" in his bid for a U.S. Senate seat.
Cruz's campaign pointed out in a statement last week that O'Rourke has collected $172,000 from the J Street PAC, which supports Democratic candidates who favor a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Cruz called on O'Rourke to return the cash.
O'Rourke's campaign finance reports do show $170,000 in donations tied to J Street PAC but the money came from individual donors, not the J Street PAC.
A transcript of the segment is below. Click “expand” to read more.
CBS This Morning
BIANNA GOLODRYGA: The President earlier this week at a campaign rally in Mississippi mocked her, made fun of her. That received condemnation from people from your own party, other senators. Do you condone the comments used towards —
GOLODRYGA: You are a legal scholar. So given your background, do you think that judge Kavanaugh has the temperament to be a Supreme Court justice from what you saw last week specifically?
8:15:42 to 8:20:55
GOLODRYGA: The conservative state of Texas is becoming a major focal point ahead of next month's midterm elections. Incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz won his seat by almost 16 percentage points in 2012 but recent polls show a rising Democratic star. Congressman Beto O'rourke is within single digits. Despite the states changing demographics, O'Rourke will need strong support from Latinos and young voters to beat Cruz. We traveled to Texas to meet both candidates for interviews you’ll see only on CBS This Morning.
TED CRUZ: You should be free to make decisions of what to do in your life.
GOLODRYGA: For Republican Senator Ted Cruz, winning reelection in the deeply red state of Texas should be easy.
CRUZ: We're being out-raised three-to-one.
GOLODRYGA: But Cruz now finds himself in a tight race against Democrat Beto O'Rourke who's trying to turn the state blue for the first time in more than two decades. A Democrat hasn't won a statewide race since 1994. Why now?
BETO O’ROURKE: I think at this moment it's not about Democrats or Republicans or party politics or the differences that have always seemed to define us. It's about this country coming together around the things that we care most about at this moment of truth. We're either going to be a country of walls, Muslim bans and the press as the enemy of the people or instead we'll be defined by our ambitions.
GOLODRYGA: Why is this race as close as it is?
CRUZ: At the end of the day we're going to win this race. The reason that we have a competitive race is it is clear that the hard left, the extreme left in this country, they're angry. Many of them are filled with hatred for President Trump and it colors everything else.
GOLODRYGA: The two couldn't be further apart on key issues. O'Rourke is trying to sell a progressive agenda, including stricter gun restrictions, universal health care, and abortion rights. Cruz says he's more aligned with Texans on multiple fronts, including border security and strong Second Amendment protections.
CRUZ: Texas want lower taxes. We want lower restrictions. We want more jobs, higher wages and more opportunities. We want to secure the border. Those are the common sense values that bring Texans together.
O’ROURKE: Whether it’s freeing dreamers from any fear of deportation by making them U.S. citizens or bringing Republicans and Democrats together to ensure their immigration laws reflect our values and are written in our own image. Those are things that Texans of all walks of life and background want us to lead on, want us to work together on. [Giving a speech.] We will do something great for Texas. We will do something great for this country.
GOLODRYGA: Before running for Senate, O'Rourke was a punk rock bassist who also ran a software company before being elected to three terms in Congress representing El Paso. His profile spiked last year when he live streamed an impromptu cross country road trip turned town hall with Republican colleague Will Heard. His campaign has broken all conventional rules.
O’ROURKE: Not only have we been in every one of the 254 counties of Texas we've accepted no help from political action committees, special interests or corporations. All people, all the time.
GOLODRYGA: Senator Cruz is a conservative icon. The married father of two was the star of the failed 2013 government shutdown on ObamaCare. And the Republican that came closest to beating President Trump in the 2016 primary, a fight that turned personal.
TRUMP: Lying Ted Cruz. We know lying Ted, right?
GOLODRYGA: A lot of people wonder why doesn't that seem to bother you more than it would anybody else?
CRUZ: You know, I will say, the media, sadly, is obsessed with personality. It's obsessed with Trump derangement syndrome. Listen, we had a vigorous primary.
GOLODRYGA: You told people to vote their conscience.
CRUZ: It was hard fought, but it's over. And when the President was elected, I made a choice. I made a choice for the people of Texas. I could either choose to have hurt feelings and say, “All right. It's all about me, I'm going to be selfish, I'm going to take my marbles and go home.” Or I'm going to choose to do my job, represent 28 million Texans and work with the President, work cooperatively to get real solutions for real problems.
GOLODRYGA: For those people on the fence they're concerned you may not work with him if you're elected senator. Would you work with the President on any policy?
CRUZ: Absolutely. I'll find every possible way to work with anyone, including President Trump, as we have done in the past to advance this country's agenda and to do better for the people that I serve.
GOLODRYGA: Look, there's no denying that O'Rourke has really energized the Democratic base. There was a fundraiser for him, 55,000 people turned out at a Willie Nelson concert on Saturday, the largest for a campaign since 2016. On the other hand, when I was with Ted Cruz yesterday there were voters and supporters who said, “You know what, I heard them speaking amongst themselves saying I don't really like what the President's been saying about Kavanaugh or what have you. My business is doing very well and this economy is doing very well so we're going to keep things as is and vote for Ted Cruz.” We'll see what ends up happening.